Leaders of all NATO member states held a plenary meeting on Dec. 4 in London, in the place where NATO was founded 70 years ago.
According to doorstep remarks by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, there were plans to discuss at the plenary session “the fight against terrorism, arms control, and NATOs relationship with Russia.” For the first time in NATOs history, according to Stoltenberg, the NATO leaders planned to discuss the rise of China.
Among other issues to be addressed were the readiness of forces, space as an operational domain, and resilience of critical infrastructure including 5G.
The “London Declaration” adopted by NATO leaders at the plenary meeting affirms allies commitment to upholding Article 5 of the Washington Treaty (the legal basis of NATO) whereby an attack against one ally shall be considered by all members as an attack on all allies.
Threats and challenges that NATO faces include “Russias aggressive actions,” terrorism, challenges to “the rules-based international order,” cyber and hybrid threats. In addition, instability taking place beyond NATOs border contributes to irregular migration, states the Declaration.
The Declaration also points out that NATO will continue to be a nuclear alliance,“ to deter and defend, “as long as nuclear weapons exist.”
It emphasizes the need to “remain open for dialogue, and to a constructive relationship with Russia when Russias actions make that possible,” and recognize the need to address opportunities and challenges that are the result of “Chinas growing influence and international policies.”
Meeting With German Chancellor Merkel
President Donald Trump also held a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. When asked during the joint press conference with Merkel whether the U.S. will sanction Nord Stream II, a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea running directly from Russian state-owned Gazprom to Germany, Trump said that it has not been determined yet and Germany will have to work it out for themselves. He also said they will talk about it.
The U.S. Congress is concerned that “the pipeline would deepen Europes dependence on Russian gas and would allow Gazprom to reduce the gas it ships via Ukraine,” stated Brookings.
Trump also said that he spoke to leaders of a number of countries to persuade them against using China to build their 5G network due to security risks and those who he spoke to agreed not to proceed with it.
Trump Took “2 Percenters” to Lunch
President Donald Trump said during the press conference with Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte, that defense spending excluding the U.S. increased to $130 billion a year. While the additional funds are used to buy new equipment Trump hopes that “we never have to use it.” “The stronger we get, the less likely … we [will] have to use it,” he said.
To thank the countries that spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, President Trump invited their leaders to a working lunch that was held after the NATO plenary meetings. Leaders from eight countries, which he called “2 percenters” joined the lunch: Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and the United Kingdom.
During lunch, Trump said that the United States spends 2.5 trillion dollars on the military.
Stoltenberg who also joined in the lunch said that a few years ago only 3 countries were contributing 2 percent and Trumps leadership on defense spending encouraged other members to spend more.